Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) has repeatedly flip-flopped in his support for Rachel Paulose, the U.S. attorney in Minnesota. Immediately after four top staffers voluntarily demoted themselves in protest of Paulose’s “highly dictatorial style” of managing, Coleman put out a statement of unqualified support:
Rachel Paulose was nominated to be U.S. Attorney based solely on her exemplary qualifications and experience. She was confirmed with the bipartisan support of Senator Coleman, former Senator Dayton, and the entire United States Senate. She replaced someone who resigned, not someone who was fired, and her nomination should not be confused with the current controversy over the recent dismissal of several U.S. attorneys in other jurisdictions.
But as the media continued to scrutinize Paulose, Coleman backed away from his earlier support and demanded that Paulose explain her situation “given the recent issues related to the U.S. attorneys nationwide.” In a letter to Paulose he wrote:
Given recent issues related to U.S. attorneys nationwide that have now extended to your own position, I urge you to take immediate action to shed light on the resignations and address the concerns which have been raised relative to your management skills.
Now, in the face of increasing criticism, Coleman’s office is claiming that the senator never even nominated Paulose:
Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., submitted the names of two candidates to replace Heffelfinger. His staff said Paulose was not one of them. … Coleman eventually embraced Paulose’s nomination, largely based on recommendations from respected lawyers, and the Senate confirmed her in December.
But a 12/9/06 press release on Coleman’s website states that “Coleman recommended [Paulose] for the post earlier this year.” In today’s Star-Tribune, the senator’s office retracts its earlier statement and admits that Paulose was nominated by Coleman.
A look at Paulose’s background indicates that she was handpicked for her personal connections rather than her professional qualifications. She was “special assistant to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, worked as a senior counsel for deputy attorney general Paul McNulty and is best buds with [former Justice official] Monica Goodling.” House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers (D-MI) now wants to interview Paulose and “is interested in the events surrounding her hiring, not her management style.” Not surprisingly, Coleman is “concerned” about the Conyers request.